The First Request
Shea: Continuing our conversation on the Lord’s Prayer, we come on the first request Jesus introduces, “Hallowed be your name,” or as the Common English Bible translates it, “Uphold the holiness of your name.” Interesting…
Tim: It’s easy to gloss over that when we pray this prayer. But its precedence in the prayer, coming at the top of the list of petitions, suggests we should slow down and give it closer consideration. What do you think is going on here?
Shea: Jesus is focusing first attention on God’s name, which was very important to first-century Jews. For Jesus’s students, God’s name was so sacred they refused to utter it. They wouldn’t even spell it out on paper, choosing instead to adopt a monogram—YHWH—that shielded God’s name from risk of being used frivolously.
Tim: Which goes back to the commandment that forbids taking God’s name in vain.
Shea: To this day, most Orthodox Jews won’t speak God’s name and if it needs to be represented in print, they render it as “G-d.”
Tim: Why so much concern about how we treat God’s name? It would seem our regard for God is more important than proper handling of God’s name.
Shea: You can’t separate them. Respect for the individual demands respect for the name and vice versa. That’s true in our own time. Your name and your reputation are one and the same. If God is holy, God’s name is holy and in Jesus’s day, “holy” meant “a thing totally set apart and protected from human tampering or corruption.”
Tim: So the holiness of the name isn’t dependent on ascribing reverence and honor that is clearly due God.
Shea: God doesn’t need us for that. God is holy all by God’s self. And that’s important because, as you recall from last week, this prayer begins by establishing God as the Divine Householder, the Lord of All Things. Jesus essentially prays that God will exercise divine privilege that is at one with God’s authority. The prayer, like all great prayers, quickly assumes a covenantal nature that embraces the collaborative nature of prayer: Holy God stands in agreement with us based on the integrity of God’s name.
Tim: God signs on the dotted line. God’s name becomes the leverage that makes the rest of the prayer effective.
Shea: It’s more than leverage. It’s the divine guarantee that liberates us to pray without condition or restraint.
Tim: I’m hearing something very powerful in this! I can’t wait to really dig into this idea!
Join us each Thursday in January as we deconstruct the prayer Jesus taught us pray in a new series, “66 Words: How the Lord’s Prayer Works and Why It Works.” We meet at 7:30pm CST at Pilgrim Congregational Church, 460 Lake Street, Oak Park Avenue with live-streaming via Facebook Live.
We need your help!
As we think about the future of Gather, please let us know what gifts you bring and would like to share with the community. There are many roles that have to come together to make Gather happen every week. This includes setup, technical support, worship, managing handouts and information, coordinating drinks, and teardown. We need your help. Please let us know what type of service you’d be interested in!
Watch God Work,
Tim & Shea
As we prepare to become a vibrant worshipping community, we invite you to enjoy a Spotify playlist that captures the kind of worship we hope to embrace. Give it a spin while you’re driving. Make it your workout jam. Add it to your devotional time. Most of all, feel yourself becoming part of a sacred village of believers who love their God and one another!
Check out the Gather Worship Playlist here.